Want to create homemade holiday gifts, but afraid they’ll collect dust on someone’s shelf? Let me share with you a really creative, cool list of ideas that are sure winners.
Each year I stumble upon some neat ideas for homemade holiday gifts from bloggers, companies, magazines, etc., and I thought this year I would take some time to share some of these great finds with you in case you have a few people (or a lot) left on your list.
But let’s face it: not all homemade gifts are created equal. Some people seem to have a real knack for making things from scratch, and we look forward to those kinds of gifts.
Other people seem to not have such a knack…and our attics fill up over the years.
Yes, it is the thought that counts and we truly appreciate their efforts; we just can’t seem to make use of them.
Below are a few ideas for homemade gifts that are practical, delicious, cute, and frugal.
Pssst: You might also want to pin this so that you can use it as inspiration throughout the rest of the year!
What is a DIY Gift?
DIY stands for Do It Yourself. So, a DIY gift is one that you make yourself.
You can go all out, and make everything from scratch.
Or, you can purchase something from the store and add some elements of your own to it.
Really, how much you do yourself is up to you.
Do It Yourself Gift Ideas — Homemade Christmas Food Gifts
- Grill Rubs: Anyone who grills or who loves to cook would love these homemade grill rubs. If you’re not interested in making these for a gift, the recipes are something you might want to bookmark for the next time you are looking for a meat rub.
- Gourmet Popcorn: I rarely have a craving for popcorn. However, over the last year I’ve noticed that making homemade gourmet popcorn with surprising ingredients is pretty trendy right now, and some of the recipes sound great! You could purchase tins from a craft store (or use paper bags, or holiday tins from years past that you’ve saved), and fill them with Rum Raisin Popcorn, Parmesan and Pecorino Popcorn, or some Zippy Italian Popcorn. The options appear to be endless (before this year I thought there were only two varieties: buttered or caramel).
- Chocolate covered Pretzel Sticks/Pretzels: I have never been a fan of dried, hard pretzels. But if you add some chocolate and other candies onto the bottom of them you can count me in. You can purchase neat containers at a craft store to showcase your work, or a piece of spaghetti Tupperware that they can reuse throughout the year.
- Homemade Chocolate Truffles: Paul and I threw a Christmas party this past weekend and for a small favor I made each guest these amazing chocolate truffles that I found in a random advertisement of a Home Made Simple magazine a year ago. Amazingly enough, I forgot to hand them out at the end because I stored each of the tins in our vegetable bin and it completely slipped my mind.
- Chinese Takeout Boxes and Chocolate Truffles: Purchase Chinese takeout boxes from Michael’s craft store (don’t forget to use a 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper), and make homemade chocolate truffles. You can put tissue paper in the little boxes, and then fill each with a few truffles. Make a cute tag.
- Herb-infused oil/Dipping oil: You can score great glass bottles from Marshall’s, Ross, TJ Maxx, or another discount department store. Purchase the herbs and oil, and make some beautiful and yummy gifts! You can include a long loaf of French bread, and/or directions for how to use the oil.
- Jams and Jellies: I’ve been the happy recipient of someone’s homemade tomato jam (using tomatoes from their garden), and homemade fig jam (using figs from their yard). Make a cute label from your kitchen, or from your yard, and tie it around with a festive ribbon.
DIY Cookie Packaging
I’m giving cookies their own category in this post!
Almost four years ago our neighbors in the duplex we used to rent brought us the most delicious cookies I have ever tasted: Martha Stewart’s Dark Chocolate Crackles (here is a recipe I found for her Chocolate Crackles). These were better than peanut blossoms (my previous favorites) and even homemade Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies did not hold a candle to them. I was lucky enough to be given the recipe when I asked for it, and made them for the first time this past week. Despite previous baking disasters in our aging ovens where time and temperature must be negotiated for each recipe according to the fickle weather outside, my Dark Chocolate Crackles turned out to taste amazing—an annual tradition for sure!
Here's how you can make homemade cookie holders:
- Save Cookie Tins Given to You: The easiest way to find cookie holders from materials in your home is to save the cookie tins gifted to you each year. Wipe the inside clean and it should be good to go for your next holiday season.
- Use Mason Jars/Used Food Jars: While I would not put cookies in used candle jars, I found that our clean jam jars, salsa jars, and spaghetti jars make wonderful Christmas cookie holders. I dressed the jar up by tying a red ribbon around the lid. If you want to go further, you could include a candy cane, a cookie cutter, or the cookie recipe itself with the ribbon.
- Decorate Paper Lunch bags: Get the kids involved with decorating brown lunch bags (crayons, markers, glitter, stickers, etc.). Fill it up with cookies, and then fold the flap over to close. Punch two holes into it, and tie a cute ribbon to seal it close.
- Make Cookie Envelopes: Martha Stewart is at it again. If you have tissue paper and stickers, then you can make cookie envelopes. These can hold 2, 4, 6, or whatever number of cookies you would like to give.
Creative Homemade Gifts and Creative DIY Christmas Gifts
Looking for creative homemade gifts that people can actually use?
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Wine Charmers: I made these as a favor for a bridal shower I co-hosted with a friend a few years ago. They were a hit! So much so, that I made several more pairs and gave them out at Christmas. Visit the jewelry section of your craft store to pick up small wire earrings, needle-nosed pliers (if you don’t own a pair), and any beads/charms you want to add.
- Scrabble (or “Words with Friends”) Coasters: Know any word buffs, or people who are glued to Words with Friends on their smart phones? These scrabble coasters are frugal, simple, and very unique.
- Mason Jar Soap Holder: I may really be showing my roots now, but when I came across this photo of a homemade mason jar soap holder, I was just elated. In fact, I made myself one, and then created two soap dispensers for friends as well! You could include a bottle of soap with your creation.
Consider Giving What I Call a “Legacy” Gift
Legacy gifts last much longer than other kinds. And these are the types you don't buy in a store — yet they have so much meaning.
My husband, Paul, and I usually spend Christmas in PA with my family and will be doing so again this year. One of our favorite things to do is get up early on Christmas morning and walk/drive over to my sister’s house to watch our niece and nephew open their gifts from Santa. Everyone is in their PJs, the Christmas tree is lit and crowned in early morning sunlight, and the room is filled with the sound of ripping paper — it’s a very festive occasion! For a few moments I am transported back to my own childhood Christmases. Afterwards my sister and her husband cook us all a belly-filling breakfast.
While turning a living room into a temporary toy store on Christmas morning is really fun, I often wonder how long the gifts actually last. Children grow out of toys and clothes so quickly. Years later when they are older perhaps they’ll hold onto the memory of a few beloved toys but nothing else will be left. Why not give some legacy gifts mixed in with the more short-term ones?
The word legacy seems to be synonymous with ‘expensive’. But legacy gifts do not have to be expensive; they just have to be lasting and meaningful. These are gifts that your receiver will take with them into adulthood, and perhaps even pass along to another generation.Legacy gifts do not have to be expensive; they just have to be lasting and meaningful. Click To Tweet
Some of my favorite legacy gifts that lasted far longer than childhood for me include savings bonds from relatives, a ring my father and stepmother passed down from my grandmother, and a personalized storybook from my great-grandmother.
Let’s see if you can create the same lasting treasures for your loved ones with some of these ideas.
Legacy Gifts that Don't Come from a Store
- Pass Down a Family Heirloom: This example shows that cost and value are two different things, as passing down an heirloom will cost you nothing and will be infinitely more valuable than any of the other gifts you purchase this year. Take the time during the holidays to pass on a family heirloom such as a quilt, an afghan, a piece of jewelry, or a secret family recipe either from you or from your ancestors. If your child is too young to understand or take care of this gift, you can store it for them until they are old enough.
- Create a Personalized Storybook: My great grandmother gave us the coolest gift one year when I was 6 (I only know my age because it is in the book) by personalizing a Christmas story with me, my brother Adam, and my grandfather’s dog Jasper. It was magical when we read it as children, and now it is a cherished book in my library. You could create one from scratch, or I believe there are companies that do this with a few inputs of information from you (google “personalized storybook”.
- UPromise Account Opening and Credit Card Gathering: You can roll up the account opening paperwork and wrap a bow around it to present to the parent/child like a diploma. I did this for my niece when I was a broke college student. To date we have $160 in free money for her college education, with another 9 years of savings to go!
- Construct a Family Tree: Aside from the occasional school project that involves children in researching their family history, in general children don’t seem to be too interested in their family history. This usually comes a bit later in life when finding one’s roots becomes much more important. By creating a family tree for a child even if they don’t appreciate it right now, you will be preserving your family’s history and ensuring that as a young or middle-aged adult your child will have the information they need to fully research their history.
- Start a Collection: Along with other gifts, my mother gave each of us one Hallmark ornament of the year each Christmas. These ornaments were stored over the years, and I am happy to say that for the last three Christmases my husband and I have decorated our tree with them. Great gifts Mom!
I hope you can see from the examples above that legacy gifts do not have to cost a fortune. In fact, they are very reasonably priced, and will bring much joy and warm memories to the receiver for years to come.
I would love to hear your own ideas or real life examples of legacy gifts!